Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Mythical Separation, pt. 2

The following is a private and cordial letter written by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802. It is here--not in the Constitution--that we find the phrase “separation between Church and State.”

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

One must admire Jefferson’s eloquence. And one can easily see how his sentiments have been misconstrued and used as a proof-text for secularist propaganda. The mythical “separation of church and state” [as practiced today] is not only repugnant to the Constitution; it is foreign to Jefferson himself. I should begin with a brief historical context.

Jefferson wrote this letter in answer to a correspondence he received from the Baptist Association located in the state of Connecticut. Baptists were a minority and had some apprehensions [understandably so, given their history with the Church of England] that perhaps the majority, Congregationalists, would interfere with their religious convictions. The Association wrote: "Religion is at all times and places a Matter between God and Individuals -- that no man ought to suffer in Name, person or affects on account of his religious Opinions.” Of course, Jefferson concurred.

Furthermore, previously I said that the First Amendment applies only to the legislature; and Jefferson quite agrees. Notice how he qualifies his remarks to refer to “legislative powers of government.” Unlike activist judges, Jefferson respects the Constitution and adheres to what it says. Nowhere in this letter does Jefferson advocate secularism. He was simply assuaging the concerns of the Baptists by affirming that there should be no Church of Connecticut or Church of the United States.

Regrettably, out-of-control federal courts abuse the Constitution and misuse Jefferson’s metaphor while the masses are unaware. Matthew D. Staver, Esq. observes,
The "wall of separation between church and state" phrase as understood by Jefferson was never meant to exclude people of faith from influencing and shaping government. Jefferson would be shocked to learn that his letter has been used as a weapon against religion. He would never countenance such shabby and distorted use of history. 

Perhaps Jefferson’s metaphor, in its rightful context, was useful. However, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, agrees with Staver: “The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.

It has been said that the freedom of worship has degenerated into the worship of freedom. And in regards to the public square, we could say the freedom of worship has devolved into the freedom from worship. This is the goal of secularism: to strip the public sphere of religious ideals and influence. But will the thus denuded public square be truly naked?

Not exactly, no. Why? Because secularism is itself a religion--and a highly evangelistic one at that. As secularist Robert Ingersoll exults,
Secularism is the religion of humanity. It is a protest against theological oppression...it means the abolition of sectarian feuds, of theological hatreds. Secularism is a religion, a religion that is understood. http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/secularism.html
Certainly there are secularists who would disagree with their own Ingersoll. They would disagree with him but only in part. They would disagree with his characterization of secularism as a religion, but they would not disagree with his stated ideology. Yet these secularists, who deny that secularism is a religion, zealously believe the ideology of secularism to be true. This is why, in the name of tolerance, they loathe and prosecute [Could we say persecute?] those who dare to disagree with them.

They religiously practice and evangelistically propagate secularist ideology. The cult of Secularism holds its doctrine to be exclusively true and it harbors suspicion and hatred-- born of irrational, intense fear--against all “others.” Indeed, Secularists are true believers. This cannot be denied.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Mythical Separation

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia sued the Giles County School Board on Tuesday for displaying the Ten Commandments in area schools. The ACLU argued that the display of the 10 Commandments favor a specific religion and violates the Constitutional provision of separation of church and state.
Do you recall the national firestorm surrounding a statue of the Ten Commandments, displayed in the rotunda of the Supreme Court of Alabama, a few years ago? A federal judge ruled that the statue must be removed and the militant secularists won the day. I would say, “They’re at it again!” but that would imply that they, at least momentarily, ceased assaulting people of faith. But such is not the case.

The fact is, the ACLU never tires of bullying folks who dare to disagree with their godless agenda or who “step off the reservation.” So long as Christians cower within the imposed confines allotted to them by secularist progressives, all will be well. But to venture beyond the private and into the public is to invite the wrath of the almighty ACLU. (Don’t let the moniker fool you--there’s nothing American, or civil, or libertarian with this godless cadre of unscrupulous lawyers.)

In regards to the Supreme Court of Alabama, and now the Giles County School Board, several issues are at stake--but neither God nor His Law are among them. That is to say, the displays may be forcefully removed but God remains unmoved and His Law continues unchanged and indelibly inscribed upon the human conscience. You see, man is powerless to be rid of the Omnipresent and he is helpless to alter the Immutable.

But what is at stake is the future of the republic of the United States and her law, namely the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States is virtually ignored and unknown by the overwhelming majority of our citizenry. Furthermore, the Constitution is violated with impunity by our judiciary who often behave as secular, liberal activists rather than judges and protectors of law.

Article VI of our Constitution reads, “This Constitution...shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby...” With so many judges this is not the case. Rather than be bound by the Constitution, they hold the Constitution hostage by their own social agendas. Rather than abide by the Constitution and adjudicate, as prescribed in Article III; the judiciary seems to prefer to legislate--a power which constitutionally belongs only to Congress, per Article I.

The ignorance [not unintelligence] of the general public and the disregard of the judiciary for the Constitution has led to the acceptance of abuse of power. The Constitution calls for checks and balances. The executive and legislative branches seem to do this for each other. But the judiciary is practically--though not constitutionally--unchecked and therefore unbalanced. Yes, the Senate has a great deal to do with approving the appointment of federal judges, but this “checks” the President, not sitting judges.

Consequently, the ignorance and abuse of the Constitution has brought us to the case studies in question: the suing of a school and the removal of a statue. The school is sued and the statue is removed on the basis of the separation of church and state. But herein lies the quandary: There is no separation of church and state in our Constitution. Look for yourself. You’ll not find the words “separation of church and state” anywhere in the document.

Regardless of what historical revisionists will tell you, the words aren’t there and neither is the concept. The Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” This is no separation of church and state as some would have you believe. The First Amendment applies to whom? Congress. What did the founders mean by “Congress”? Well, look at the rest of the Constitution for proper context.

Every usage of the word “Congress” in the entire Constitution applies strictly to the legislative branch of our government as described in Article I. Congress cannot make laws establishing a certain religion, nor may they prohibit worship. Since when does public prayer, manger scenes, statues in a courthouse, or posters in a school building; constitute Congress making law? The Constitution does not seek to secularize the state it only seeks to limit one branch of our government: the legislative. The Constitution has been hijacked and we’ve been sold a bill of goods.

The “separation of church and state” is a myth accepted as fact. I find it laughable when I hear a sophist exclaim, “Well, the actual words aren’t there, but we know that ‘separation of church and state’ is what is meant.” Funny, I thought our founders were very intelligent and quite articulate. But this is precisely what activist judges do: They try to tell us that the Constitution does not mean what it says. Then of course, they tell us what it does or should mean according to their own philosophy. It has been said tongue-in-cheek: Someday a judge will declare the Constitution unconstitutional.

If a secularist judge imposes the principle of “separation of church and state” that’s one thing. But then to feign that one is basing such a decision upon the Constitution is another. The separation of church and state, as commonly believed, is a fabrication which has no constitutionality.

In fact, read the sentiments of the fourth President of the United States--also known as the father of the Constitution--James Madison:
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of the government, far from it. We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, in accordance with the Ten Commandments of God.
I wonder what the “father of the Constitution” would think of activist federal judges and secularist progressive thugs declaring the Ten Commandments to be unconstitutional? But if the words “separation of church and state” are not in the Constitution, from where did they come? We’ll explore the answer next time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Quest For Relevance

Do you remember how “The Passion” movie was touted by some as the greatest evangelistic tool of our times? Remember how this movie was supposed to impact society, as churches turned into theaters, to reach the lost? This is but one high profile example of how, in many quarters of the church, there has been an underlying philosophical or theological shift; a trans-denominational movement.

Some, in their quest for relevance, believe that if we as the church are to be significant to the postmodern man and woman in 2011, then we must change. We must find out what people are looking for, what they want. And if they’re looking for entertainment--and we know they are--then we’d better be more and more entertaining. Sadly, this is the mind-set of many churches today who have completely sold themselves to the seeker-sensitive, felt needs, and consumer mentality of the church growth gurus of today. Like Hollywood, these churches have a bottom line: attract an audience.

Unfortunately, the seeker-sensitive, felt needs church, whose “driving purpose” is to market Jesus to the unbeliever, [the unbeliever who is viewed as a consumer who will do business with us if we package everything just right], is not impacting the culture. Today’s seeker-sensitive, felt needs church mimics the culture. It mimics the culture in various, and often obvious, ways. This church’s philosophy is: We will look how you want us to look. We will speak the words you want to hear. We will play the music you prefer. We will even offer multiple services to suit your preferences--a veritable smorgasbord of the sacred to satiate your every whim. This church will say, “It’s all about Him” and then behave as if “It’s all about you.”

This type of church will not preach the biblical Gospel. It will not preach the biblical Gospel because the biblical Gospel will offend the unbeliever. After all, if the unbeliever is a consumer and our product is Jesus, we must make our product more palatable to our sensitive consumer‘s tastes. Certainly, it will meet its bottom line [getting people into the church] but it fails to realize that getting people into the church is not at all the same thing as getting people into the Kingdom of Christ.

For example, the seeker sensitive, felt needs church will never tell the unbeliever/consumer that he is a sinner deserving the wrath of God. Goodness no. Instead, it will invite him to its small group fellowship which is entirely devoted to helping him discover how to live his best life now. It will non judgmentally share how to be more whole, healthy, wealthy, and fulfilled.

Then two or three sessions later, a few testimonials will be offered in order to demonstrate how "having Jesus" improves marriage, children, work, social status, and finances. The seeker will find that Jesus will do all of this if he'll just "let Him;" if he will simply choose to be on Jesus' team-- or if he’ll graciously decide to let Jesus be on his team (we wouldn't want an unsettling argument as to whose team it is). And should the unbeliever/consumer venture into a Sunday morning service, he will hear a 15 minute speech comprised of a joke and 3 points about how God wants us to think as highly of ourselves as He does.

I ask you, reader: Is this the Gospel message of the Holy Bible? I think not. Some contend that while they appreciate the Gospel, given our cultural milieu, simply preaching the Gospel will not work. The idea is that while the message may not change the method must change. Clearly, this sentiment is misguided.

It is misguided because when the method changes, i.e. when our paradigm of ministry shifts from that which is God-centered to that which is man-centered; the message does change. It is also misguided because it fails to realize that God not only ordains the message, but also God ordains the method. The Apostle Paul is emphatic: “Preach the word!” (2Timothy 4:2). Are we so presumptuous as to believe that biblical methodology is antiquated; that the advice of church growth experts is superior to the exhortation of the Apostles of our Lord?

Yes, the church must be relevant. But the church is never more irrelevant than when she tries to be relevant. The church is never more misguided than when she abandons that which is absolute and eternal in her quest for that which is "relevant" and temporal. Think of it thus: Cultures are in constant motion. The prevailing superficial philosophies of today, the fads of the present, will be outdated ten years from now. If the church is to mimic the culture she will be in a state of perpetual flux.

But God does not change. Truth does not change. Human nature does not change. In the 21st Century--like every century--only the message and method of the Holy Bible will suffice. Only when the church is fixed on the eternal, rather than fixated on the fluctuating, can she be true to her Lord and relevant in all ages.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Nation Under Government

The following piece is inspired by a gentleman I shall refer to as, “Joe Liberal.” Joe Liberal is a socialist with a heart as big as the outdoors and a head just as empty. His tired theories of government and economics put me in mind of the immortal words of Ronald Reagan: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

Joe Liberal says of the Tea Party that it engages in “economic terrorism.” He also offers this little gem: “if we ruin our credit rating the poor will either join the armed forces and fight for the Neo Cons or die some other way.” [I’m almost positive the vast majority of us are going to “die some other way” regardless of the credit rating…but I digress.]

Finally he elucidates, “Osama’s ‘record spending’ saved this country's ass from a crippling depression . Had the stimulus bill not passed there would have been unimaginable havok [sic] and tragedy in America. At least have the minimum amount of class and dignity to thank our leader for doing his job and pulling us back from the brink of disaster…”

Talk about the minimum amount of class and dignity! Whew…no wonder I was inspired.

During those final days of the collapsing Marxist experiment in the Soviet Union, Soviet novelist Chingiz Aitmatov retold the following story, which has been paraphrased here.
On one occasion, so it was narrated, Stalin called for a live chicken and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen.
Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped. “Now you watch,” Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some bread crumbs in his hand.
Incredibly, the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird, and it began to follow him around the room, he turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, “This is the way to rule the people. Did you see how that chicken followed me for food, even though I had caused it such torture? People are like that chicken. If you inflict inordinate pain on them they will follow you for food the rest of their lives.” (Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, pp. 26-27)
Are once proud eagles now naked chickens? The early Americans wanted limited government. They wanted government to protect their persons and properties against foreign and domestic enemies; and then pretty much LEAVE THEM ALONE.

When did the American ideal of government morph into the desire--the actual desire--for a monstrous, intrusive, regulatory, thieving, socialistic, nanny nightmare bureaucracy? Why have so many pledged themselves and all others to be one nation under government?

Joe Liberal’s comments embody the ever spreading and ever insatiable mind-set of “entitlement.” The entitlement mentality is more than willing to sacrifice LIBERTY--true liberty--on the altar of security--FALSE security. People of his persuasion do not want liberty from governmental control. Rather, they want to be taken care of [perhaps not taken care of personally or directly, but they see the government as THE SUPREME AGENCY of managing and enabling peoples' lives--literally from cradle to grave].

As I said, historically, this was not the American ideal, but rather the European statist ideal. Nevertheless, America has many "Joe Liberals" with pipe dreams of utopian, democratic socialism.

These folks long for government to manipulate and control the economy, on nearly every level. For this to happen they are more than happy to have government manipulate and control every aspect of life [which is the inevitability of statism according to F.A. Hayek's classic work, "The Road to Serfdom"].

According to the “Joe Liberals” of the world, Americans are utterly incapable of managing personal liberty. We need the government to put food into our mouths. (In fact, we need the government to regulate the kind of food and the correct amount of food to put into our mouths. Furthermore, government must also restrain the condiments we put on our food before it puts the food into our mouths.)

Government must provide us with health insurance. (Which is not to be confused with actual health CARE.) Government must control how we parent our children--and how we school them. Government must house us. Government must invade our privacy to protect us from ourselves. Government must police our thoughts lest we express things which are politically incorrect or inexpedient....and on and on.

Early Americans cherished independence. The “Joe Liberals” of America today crave DEPENDENCE. Nothing pleases them more than government money and mandates. That is, they suffer from acute, and perhaps incurable, “naked chicken” syndrome. It was a democratically elected socialist [Adolf Hitler] who quipped, "What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."

One simply cannot have both liberty from and dependence upon government in the same sense or within the same relationship. And as Ben Franklin remarked: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."